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The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story School & Library Binding – October 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • School & Library Binding: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (October 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584302372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584302377
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–Meena, an American girl of East Indian descent, constantly stumbles, trips, and knocks things over, causing herself terrible humiliation. As her class prepares to put on a play, she cringes. She doesn't want to participate, fearful that she will embarrass herself in front of a large audience. While shopping at the Indian grocer with her mother, she notices a yoga class in session at the back of the store. The shopkeeper, Auntie, encourages the girl to sign up for a new children's class, and Meena hesitantly agrees. At first she is extremely awkward, but with encouragement from Auntie and practice, Meena learns to breathe more deeply and move more carefully. She survives the school play without calamity and all is well. Jeyaveeran's folksy, acrylic paintings, done in warm tones, depict children of many ethnicities. The story presents the ubiquitous problem of clumsiness with warmth and veracity. Meena's difficulties are not overcome quickly and yoga is introduced in a nonintrusive way. Krishnaswami occasionally dabs the text with Hindi words and expressions, adding a delightful Indian flavor. An excellent addition to any collection.–Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 2. Meena is excited about the class play, a "new and improved version" of Red Riding Hood. But after spilling paint on the set, she feels too clumsy to participate. Her teacher talks her into a part as a tree, but Meena stumbles during rehearsals, cementing her view of herself as uncoordinated and bumbling. Then, while shopping at the Indian market with her mother, she spots a yoga class for kids and signs up. She practices the postures and gradually gains confidence, and on the play's opening night, she uses what she has learned to play the perfect, grounded tree. Some of the messages about yoga's benefits are a bit purposeful: "If I am quiet inside, my body will be still. That's what yoga is really about." And a few figures in the acrylic illustrations appear stilted. Still, the balanced compositions and bright colors nicely echo the warm, encouraging story about overcoming challenges, while the well-integrated details of Meena's Indian culture, including a few terms, are rare and welcome in books for this age group. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Uma Krishnaswami is the author of many books for children. She is also on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
He was transfixed through the entire book.
Amy L. Lee
The story is slightly didactic in that some yoga lessons are cleverly snuck into the narrative, but the insertions are not interruptions to the flow of the story.
Joel Bangilan
It's nice to see a book about yoga for kids, especially one that equally informs and entertains.
M. Allen Greenbaum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 20, 2006
Format: School & Library Binding
Young Meena is a girl of Indian ancestry who is going through a growth spurt common to many kids her age. As her mom explains, "your arms and leg are growing really fast. That can make you feel clumsy sometimes." When Meena rehearses for the school play (a retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood"), both her balance and self-esteem take a tumble. Her Dad reassures her that she needn't be perfect, "just try your best." Meena dejectedly replies, "I'm perfectly clumsy."

The next day Meena and her mom go to the "Auntie" Vohra's Indian grocery story. Snacking on some "matthi," an astonished Meena see legs shooting up, holding still, and lowering again! It's a yoga class, and Auntie encourages her to join. Through yoga practice, Meena improves her coordination, and more importantly, her self-confidence and ability to calm herself. All this comes in handy on the night of the play, especially when things don't go quite as planned.

The book is admirable on a number of levels. The richly saturated acrylic illustrations, add drama and intensity to the story. The author sprinkles a few Indian words throughout the book (there's a glossary), and depictions of Meena's home and the market show Indian decorations, and a colorful assortment of foods. The Indian influences add interest and authenticity without overpowering or stereotyping Meena, who is, after all, a child of the West. I thought that one of Ruth Jeyaveeran's pictures (the rehearsal) breaks the fluid narrative; she covers too many story elements in one illustration, but overall text and pictures mesh well.

"The Happiest Tree" shows a few yoga poses, and emphasizes the slow progression and the importance of the teacher's help.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Constance M. Gotsch on November 9, 2005
Format: School & Library Binding
Menna is one of those kids who walks into a room and things fall over. She can tumble over her own feet. In fact, she's so excited about her class play The New Improved Red Ridinghood, that she trips, falls, and spills the paint while helping build the set. Worse, when she and her mother go to an East Indian grocery store to shop, Meena manages to knock over a bag of rice. Now she's really miserable. Encouraged by the store's owner, whom everyone calls Auntie, Meena signs up for children's yoga. As she works through the various poses, she discovers a mind-body connection she didn't know she had. Then her teacher, Mrs. Jackson tells her she must be a trree in the play. Meena can't stand still, until she realizes she might apply something she she learned in yoga class to her part. Then on opening night, she confronts a disaster with her costume. Can she use yoga principles to overcome the problem? If so, she stands to become THE HAPPIEST TREE in the production.

THE HAPPIEST TREE: A YOGA STORY comes from the pen of talented children's author Uma Krishnaswami. Uma has the knack of catching a child's feelings, growth, and discovery as she develops Meena from a shy little girl who wants to hide from the world, to a confidant actress who might just handle the unexpected emergency. Ruth Jeyaveeran's illustrations work well with Uma Krishnaswami's text, presenting Menna's environment in a rich palette of East Indian colors and objects. As a result THE HAPPIEST TREE: A YOGA STORY offers a universal problem for the heroine to solve, by drawing on a solution from a specific cultural background. The combination offers a rich reading and visual experience to anyone who wants it.
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By loveangie on March 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My daughter really loves this story :) something she asks me to read to her every night, a very sweet story. Great buy thanks so much!
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By Amy L. Lee on September 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I pre-read this book before reading it to my 4 year old son. I thought it was a wonderful book, but it seemed like it was for a bit older audience and would not hold his attention. So, I didn't read it to him. About a week later, he found the book and asked me to read it. He was transfixed through the entire book. He requested us to do the yoga poses in the book. The story even opened up a great dialogue about how yoga came from India. His godparents are Indian, so this was great conversation and prompted him to want to ask them questions about their native language and culture.
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